THE presidential veto on the bill seeking a P2,000 hike in Social Security System (SSS) pensions may take its toll on the candidacy of administration presidential candidate Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd and other Liberal Party (LP) bets, political experts said.
“It will impact negatively. In the campaign environment now, any failure or issue against the administration will affect Roxas,” Institute for Political and Electoral Reform executive director Ramon Casiple said in a text message to The Manila Times.
The President said he returned the enrolled House Bill 5842 unsigned because of its “dire financial consequences” that may compromise the entire benefits system.
“While we recognize the objective of the bill to promote the well-being of the country’s private-sector retirees, we cannot support the bill in its present form,” he told Senate President Franklin Drilon and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
Aquino maintained that approving the pension increase would leave the SSS bankrupt as it would deplete the Investment Reserve Fund to “zero” by 2029.
Besides Casiple, a political science professor interviewed by ABS-CBN believes that the veto on the bill that would have benefited more than two million SSS pensioners will “hurt” Roxas and his Daang Matuwid (straight path) slate.
Dr. Aries Arugay of the University of the Philippines Diliman claimed that Roxas’ rivals will feast on the issue and use it as a weapon against him.
“Hindi natin pwedeng sabihing imposible iyun lalo na kung magagamit ng ibang kandidato iyung issue na ito sa kampanya. Kasi nga election period na, lahat ng desisyon ng mga pulitiko, pwede nang gamitin (We can’t discount this possibility because it’s election time and any issue can be used),” he said, echoing Casiple’s views.
In vetoing the bill, Aquino explained that “the stability of the entire SSS benefit system, whose present membership comprises about 31 million individuals, will be seriously compromised in favor of two million pensioners and their dependents.”
Mathematically, he explained that the hike will result in an annual payout of P56 billion, which would dwarf the SSS’ annual investment income of only 30 to 40 billion.
Roxas’ running mate, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, expressed the fear that Aquino’s move will make them “suffer.”
“Totoo na iyong magsa-suffer niyan iyong mga kandidato ng administrasyon kasi kahit papaano ang palo niyan, sa amin (Administration candidates will suffer because somehow, we will be hit),” she said.
She claimed that Aquino should approved the bill not only because it will benefit pensioners but also to earn brownie points for the ruling Liberal Party.
“Iyong pinakamadali niyang gawin, i-approve niya iyon. Kasi ‘pag in-approve niya iyon, pogi siya, pogi iyong Liberal Party,” she pointed out.
However, Robredo said she trusts that the president has a justifiable reason for vetoing the measure and that she would abide by that decision.